Antagonists and Riddles
By: Tre Brock (author, Zablocki Bros. LLC) on August 18th, 2013 12:00 AM.
All great movies have great bad guys. But why do they always have so many riddles? From Batman to The Hobbit the antagonist of the story tells riddles to make a game out of the bad situations they create, forcing the good guy of the story to solve them and save the day.
The easiest reason would be that they do it to prove how much better they are than the hero. It isn't enough to win, the antagonist has to time and again prove he is better by giving the protagonist clues. But we all know it will eventually lead to their failure. It seems like they might be giving out these hints until they get caught. The excessive number of clues they give could mean one of three things: either they are looking to get caught, they are crazy so they can't help giving clues, or the author is lazy and wants an easy way to resolve the story. I hope it's one of the first options most of the time.
The most infamous example of a protagonist who tells riddles is the Riddler from Batman. Every time he has been in the same movie, show or comic as Batman he has given away his own plan leading Batman to defeat him. He is the bad guy, but after watching him reveal his own plan for the hundredth time you start to get annoyed with him. For the Riddler, crazy suits him. He gives out the clues obsessively, like he has the need to feel smarter than Batman and everyone else.
Gollum, one of the characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, is another great example of a character allowing the protagonist to prevail through the use of riddles. In The Hobbit he forces the main character Bilbo to answer a series of riddles to escape from him. He seems like he wants to lose the battle as he could easily not give Bilbo the chance to escape.
Why are antagonists so obsessed with riddles? We may never know. But we do know one thing, they make for an interesting story.
For more information about riddles visit the Wikipedia riddle page.